Large parts of Malaysia are covered by jungles. In many parts of the country, plant life starts from mangrove swamps along the coast, turning into forests as they grow inland with trees often reaching tremendous heights of 60 metres or more, and continuing up the highlands where the vegetation shrinks to adapt to the climate. The jungles have provided the environment for plants, animals, reptiles and insects to flourish and evolve.
Malaysia is blessed with a whole variety of plants and fruits, both indigenous and imported. Palm, banana and papaya trees grow naturally and can be found practically everywhere. Oil palms, whose seeds can be turned into edible and industrial products, are grown in plantations with their fruits often harvested and left on the road-side waiting to be collected. And then there are rubber trees (also grown in plantations), which were brought in from Brazil more than a hundred years ago, and are a common sight as one travels along country roads.
Orchids and other kinds of flowers are everywhere. Refflesia, the world's largest (and said to be smelliest) flower, can only be found in the forests on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.
Fruits grown in the country include guava (which has a green skin and an appearance somewhat like a pear), rambutan (a fruit with a red and hairy skin and a juicy flesh) and mangosteen (which has a dark purple shell, but if you squeeze the shell hard enough, it will open up to expose segments of white and somewhat sweet and sour flesh).
A well-known and very potent (some call it pungent or worse) fruit is the durian. Apart from its smell, it has an imposing appearance as the fruit is somewhat like an over-sized pineapple but with an armour of spikes around the shell. Strange enough, while it is a farourite fruit in Malaysia and other countries in South-east Asia, they are often not allowed to be brought into public buildings and subway systems because of its horrid smell.
Animals, birds and other forms of wildlife can be found in various parts of the country. Wildlife living in the jungles include Malaysian Tapirs, deers, hornbills, macaques, snakes, monitor lizards, and some say tigers and elephants; but do not count on seeing the last two easily as most probably have been killed or driven from their natural habitats.
From about May to September every year on the east coast of Malaysia Peninsula along a stretch of beach about 35 kilometres north of Kuantan is the place where several species of turtles come back from the sea to lay their eggs. For the leatherback turtles, the largest species of them all, they can be found laying their eggs further north, about 160 kilometres north of Kuantan, in a place called Rantau Abang.
Sabah is the home of the orang-utan. Swiftlets, the little birds whose saliva is the ingredient for the Chinese birds' nest delicacy, can be found in the millions in the caves of Sabah and Sarawak.
And there are more, a lot more, to be seen when one visits Malaysia.